post music: dualistic & nct - the unknown (boxplot remix) (no url because I was on local files)
Okay, so I'm about a whole month and a half too late for this, but I do what I want. What are they gonna do, stop me?
Today is 10 February, 2023. It's about 9:30 in the morning, and I've just put away my ThinkPad P50s from 2017 in favour of the KING; a PowerBook G4 from 2005. It officially marks the beginning of my PowerPC Challenge journey-- the one I said I'd set off on in my post about Linux on PowerPC a little more than a week ago.
It took me damn near 20 minutes to play a music file.
Yes, I will elaborate. It starts with Bluetooth audio on PowerPC being effectively nonexistent outside of use with those little nugget headsets that only go in one ear and you pair with your phone? The ones that big business people use. Not ideal for listening to music. I already knew this, though, so I grabbed my little Bluetooth audio transceiver and it won't pair with my headphones. No matter what I did, it would do nothing. I had to grab my travel pair, and it will now be doing double duty. But it gets better. And by better I mean much much worse. Went to play a music and Vox was the only software I had on hand that played FLACs. It does not play FLACs very well. So I had to go grab an AAC version to play instead and it's just a big ol' mess.
If this is what it takes to play music, I'm in for the long haul with this challenge.
I should probably start with what I'm working with. I would usually ride with the Companion, a 2nd Gen Aluminium 15" PowerBook G4 from 2003. Model A1046, with a 1 GHz G4 and 1 GB of RAM. It would max out at 2, but it suffers from a condition known as Dead Bottom RAM Slot Syndrome-- a condition that renders the slot nearest the logic board unuseable, thus making the effective maximum RAM a single gig. The Companion will undoubtedly see some use, but for this challenge I'm going to give myself the best possible shot I can.
The main machine for this challenge is The KING. A certified holy grail among Power Macs, this 5th Gen 17" behemoth is the first (and last) PowerBook G4 to ship with that new fangled DDR2 technology; though we still only max out at 2 GB. Its 1.67GHz G4 is the fastest that Apple's shipped, and the monster 17" 1680x1050 16:10 display is the highest resolution display shipped in a PowerBook officially. I've also included a Linksys 802.11n WiFi PC card as an upgrade-- AirPort-compatible at that. For all intents and purposes, this is the biggest and the baddest for this kind of challenge. The laptop that came after this was called "MacBook Pro". Like that'll ever catch on.
Other machines coming along for the ride is my 4th Gen Titanium PowerBook for OS 9-ing, a 4th Gen 12" G4, and a bezel-damaged piece of kit known only as the Six Dollar eMac if I decide to set that back up again. And there's a G3 minitower in the server hallway.
Now, in my Linux post I said that I ran Bedrock Linux on a Gentoo base. The day after I publish that post, I'm imaging Sorbet Leopard onto the KING instead. The reasons for this are two-fold. The first is that the KING had a bum Superdrive and wouldn't read any discs I put in-- it'd try and spin it up for a bit and then spit it back out. Installing Gentoo was a PITA without that Superdrive. I had to use the Companion in Target Disk Mode over Firewire to boot the CD and then have the loader switch to a USB mirror because the KING wouldn't just boot the USB. And Debian won't play ball at all with this setup. The second reason is that Bedrock only has a Gentoo stratum for PPC and nothing else. Not ideal for PowerBooks from the early 2000s. I'd've probably been on my way if I installed Bedrock on a Debian base, but without that Superdrive, I'm pretty SOL. Replacement is on the way soon. Probably not in time for this challenge, though.
So I'm on Sorbet Leopard for probably the entire challenge, with the Companion on Tiger and the Titanium on OS 9.
The moment I go online, I run into an issue: my password manager, Bitwarden, does not work. At all. On any browser. I just get a spinning circle and nothing more. Already 0 for 2 and I haven't even gotten to the list yet. No major matter; I'll just use Bitwarden with my phone.
Oh yeah, the list. Before I started this challenge, I put together a list of things that I do on a regular basis and also their viability and difficulty to do and here's it:
- YouTube (high viability, medium difficulty)
- Discord (impossible without cheating)
- Livestreaming (impossible even if I cheat)
- Microsoft Excel (high viability, easy difficulty)
- Check on MacRumors' PPC Macs board (high viability, medium difficulty)
- Social media.... (twitter is probably medium/medium, mastodon is probably high/easy, and cohost is impossible, for now)
- Code editing (high viability, easy difficulty)
- Email (we will talk about this....)
- Regular ol' web browsing (sure)
Starting with the easy ones and going up:
high viability, easy difficulty
Office 2008 was the first version of Office for Mac that supported the new Office XML format natively, and it is also the last version of Office for Mac to ship to PowerPC. And that makes no sense, really. Office 2011 supports Leopard, so why was it Intel only? Like, if you wanted to support Leopard you could've at least given us that.
This goes on for a bit. I'm gonna spare you the trouble of this rant. It is broken off into a separate unlisted post if you're interested in that for some reason.
Anyway, spreadsheeting with Excel is super easy. I can use the tools of the day just as easily as I can the tools of today.
high viability, easy difficulty
Seeing as code is just a bunch of text files, editing should be a cakewalk. Testing it is going to be a different story, but I didn't put testing there, I put editing.
Check on MacRumors' PPC Macs board
high viability, medium difficulty
The only thing keeping this from being easy difficulty is the frustration I will experience by loading that fat Xenforo-based website on this hardware. If it was something lighter, it'd be easy difficulty for sure. The forums on Macintosh Garden are pretty light, as is 68kMLA and similar vintage-focused forums.
high viability, medium difficulty
There are multiple documented ways of watching YouTube videos on PowerPCs of varying degrees of power. I just have to set that up. I wonder if I can integrate my existing feed into it. Probably not. No matter.
I would say that I use, to varying degrees of usage, three social media platforms: Twitter, the federated networks of Mastodon, and cohost. Of these three, cohost isn't happening, not until the mobile site is functional. I got stuck trying to log in. Mastodon is probably the easiest, seeing as there are webuis that are specifically designed to be minimalist and lightweight. And Twitter is in the middle.
impossible without cheating
There used to be ways to get Discord to blend on PowerPC. None of them work anymore. Just loading it in browser shows but a blank screen. InTheBox did the same. Discord Lite from dosdude1 doesn't work anymore without an external proxy server (it might be able to work entirely on PowerPC, but bleh). Unfortunately, I use Discord a lot. Like a lot a lot. Which leaves the sad, unfortunate reality that I have to cheat, just a little bit. I could cheat in one of two ways-- both of them require an external Linux system-- and of them I've gone with the harder second pick, but I would personally recommend the first pick just because of its ease of use.
- Easy first pick: Browservice Browservice is a sort of half-proxy half-renderer in which it will render a Chromium window in a container and then blast that container over the network as a series of images to the target machine. It's really easy to set up and use and only comes at the cost of a bit of visual fidelity and client framerate-- it is blasting full resolution images over the network after all.
- Harder second pick: X11 forwarding over SSH Probably not super ideal unless you have powerful hardware that's not being regularly used. I happen to have way too much RAM in my workstation, so I can easily spin up a virtual machine that does nothing but be an X11 client. If you want to run the native Discord app, you'll need an x86 X11 client-- which, to aid the confused, the client is what runs the applications and the server is what displays them. If you're fine with just having it in browser, a Raspberry Pi or other ARM machine will do you well. The colours are also completely incorrect; though that may be a me problem.
impossible even if I cheat
I'm an esports-type livestreamer, specialising in competitive events. I can't do that with a Power Mac. There's no way.
WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS
Unless you use some exotic email service, email is a sham. You may be able to use Gmail's basic HTML webui, and you may be able to link Outlook to an email client with an app password, but it's all downhill from here.
Will post updates as things happen. Challenge ends at the start of March. Wish me luck.
update: 1 week in (17 Feb 2023)
So early on I found out that no, you can't link Outlook with an app password anymore because now even they require new TLS things, bleh. YouTube is better now, though, seeing as there is now an unofficial patch for PPCMC that links it to Python 3.11 making it once again compatible with yt-dl (dlp in this case). I've found myself right at home to be honest. Besides the password manager, email, and Discord, it's not that bad of an experience. The remaining 11 days will be easy street I feel.
update: final (28 Feb 2023)
So I've reached the end, and I gotta say, I don't think it was completely disastrous. There were times where I thought that I'd've been using this all along and that nothing's changed. But it's time to go home to modern-day technology. I passed.